Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Poinsettia Care

This traditional Christmas plant has undergone many improvements in recent years. Excellent new hybrids combined with professional growing techniques produce a poinsettia which will bloom beautifully through the holidays and beyond. Where to Grow Your poinsettia will appreciate a bright, sunny window, but will tolerate lower light levels. Place your plant in a spot where it will not be exposed to drafts since sudden fluctuations of temperature are stressful. Likewise, avoid locations near sources of direct heat. Flowers and their colorful bracts last longest at temperatures of 60 degrees to 70 degrees during the day and slightly cooler at night. When to Water When the soil surface feels dry to the touch, water your poinsettia thoroughly until excess water runs out drainage holes. (Poinsettias should be removed from decorative pot covers and placed in a plant saucer for watering.) After about 15 minutes, discard the excess water. Do not allow your plant to stand in the saucer of water for prolonged periods - this may result in root rot. When to Feed Fertilize regularly with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer, preferably one recommended for blooming plants. Follow the directions on the label. Possible Problems A plant that still wilts after a thorough watering has most likely been over watered and has sustained root damage. Yellow leaves or dropping leaves may indicate either too much water, not enough water, temperatures which are too warm, or too low light. Professional horticulturists will be able to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of insects, diseases, and physiological plant disturbances. Special Note For many years poinsettias were considered poisonous plants. Many studies, including one at Ohio State University (1979) have proven that poinsettias are not poisonous to humans. However, ingesting very large quantities of stems and leaves may induce a mild digestive upset. The Consumer Products Safety Commission, after reviewing all available information, declined to require poinsettias to carry a toxic warning label.

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